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Americans abroad to vote online in primary

30 January, 2008
By Allison Orr

An official arm of the US Democratic Party, Democrats Abroad, will host the very first online primary.  This will mean that Democrats living overseas will be able to vote online for their presidential primary candidate, and the winner of that race will earn 22 delegates at the Democratic National Convention.

Ex-pats have been able to vote in primaries before by mailing an absentee vote in the primary where they last lived in the United States.  The addition of the online voting option will streamline the process which has been hampered by complicated voter registration paperwork and delays in mail services.

According to Yahoo News, 6 million Americans who live overseas are eligible to vote in elections, but very few do.   Those that do cannot guarantee that their vote will be counted.  In the 2006 general election, the US Election Assistance Commission found that of the 992,034 ballots requested from overseas, only 330,000 were counted.  Most of the uncounted ballots were returned to election officials as undeliverable.  It is hoped that by allowing ex-pats to vote online, they will be more likely to vote, as it is easier and they know their vote will be counted.

Says Lindsey Reynolds, executive director of Democrats Abroad, "it allows access to folks who ordinarily wouldn’t get to participate".

For a discussion on some of the problems with Internet voting, see the Perspective: The Democratic Party's dangerous experiment.

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